Smartphone supertest: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One (M8) vs Sony Xperia Z2 vs LG G3

1. Sony Xperia Z2

The Xperia Z2 makes almost zero compromises – on screen, sound, camera or battery life. The design is gallery-worthy, finished with rounded aluminium corners, an all-glass back and minimalist details. But your hands might not like it – both the S5, One M8 and G3 are easier to hold than this 163g block, and picking up the Z2 from a desk can be awkward.

It has Live Colour LED tech for punchy but accurate hues, and clear-sounding stereo speakers on the front of the phone. Our only niggle? The front is seriously reflective. For a smartphone camera, the Z2 can take incredible photos with its 1/2.3in, 20.7MP sensor and speedy autofocus. 

It also flies in use: it shares the same 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 processor as the S5 and One M8, but the Sony’s 3GB of RAM bests its rivals. Small apps in overlaid windows lag occasionally, but it’s still a great use of that 5.2in screen, and the Android skin is mostly clutter-free.

With a bigger screen, there’s a bigger 3200mAh battery, and the Z2 reliably lasts the day - with Stamina mode to conserve juice when the screen’s off.

Overall, this is the connoisseur’s choice, capable of taking brilliant photos and playing cinephile video. It oozes quality but isn’t the most practical choice. But if you have the time to show Sony some love, it will return it in large dollops.

READ MORE: Sony Xperia Z2 - the full review

More after the break...

The detail

Design: 9/10
A gorgeous design isn’t the same as a thoughtful design. Although the Z2’s a heavy smartphone, this isn’t the problem - the HTC weighs just as much. The issue is more that the Z2’s toughened glass build would work better scaled down. When you’re dealing with a 5.2in diagonal span of glass, ergonomics count (we’re hoping the Z2 Compact gets this right).

Another smartphone best picked up and fondled before you decide, then. If its shape and minimalist design work for you, you can get back to appreciating everything the Sony does brilliantly. Such as being waterproof: with all the port flaps closed, the Z2 has the same IP55/IP58 water-resistance as the Z1. Plus, the headphone jack is now flap-free. 

Screen: 9/10
In almost every way the Z2’s screen is a stunner. It displays fine detail better than both the S5 and the One M8, perfect for pressing your nose up against full HD movies. Viewing angles aren’t the best but they’re no longer a problem either.

Camera: 10/10
The Superior Auto mode doesn’t always produce the best images – it can struggle to expose correctly in sunlight and it doesn’t have the night vision of the HTC. But chances are, Sony owners won’t mind digging into the comprehensive settings.

Here it shines: faces come out well in low light, scenes look punchy and the background de-focus mode is mesmerising. Both 1080p and 4K footage are smooth thanks to SteadyShot stabilisation, though autofocus jumps around while filming and, with the Snapdragon heating up, the Z2 can abruptly stop shooting in the higher resolution.

OS and apps: 9/10
Sony’s treatment of KitKat verges on bloatware, with pushy media services ruining the fun. For instance, an upward swipe to access Google Now also shows Sony’s What’s New app: a feature guaranteed to have zero fans.

READ MORE: 10 of the best apps for the Sony Xperia Z2

READ MORE: The best cases, headphones and accessories for the Sony Xperia Z2

Comments

 One of the things that's being overlooked about the M8 is it's camera. While in stock form I must admit  it's a mess for outdoor landscapes but If you're willing to root you're phone & install Jishnu Sur's HTC One Cam V3.zip mod it corrects most of it's  shortcomings.  it however doesn't stop there. For even more camra awsomeness, a trip over to Google play to pick up a litle app called  Camera FV-5 will have you churning out 4.5 MB Raw .PNG files that will bitch slap every one of it's rivals in their stock form.  The ultra pixel Camra HTC hyped up  is actualy there. You just have to do a little digging to bring it out. And lets also not forget the sound. as is it's awsome. By simply rooting the phone and flashing the rom you get  a choice of either Beats audio (which I prefer) or the Htc one Harman Kardon presets. 

Most will likely go for the Harman Kardon presets but as a true audiofile I can tell you first hand that while not as spacious sounding (I feel Harman Kardon over did it with the brightness) Beats audio introduces a warm, rich, ampli spacious quality sound with Bass the likes I have never heard coming from such a small device.

Another one of the HTC's strong points are it's actual data thruput speeds. whether it be with wi-fi or 4G LTE.  The phone is one of the fastest out there.

So the bottom line is, If you like to root your device you may want to go for the M8 & if done right your images won't be pixelated and you also wont have a problem with its dynamic range.

The M8  Rooted  is just beautifully awesome.

I've personally gone for the LG G3 after reading this review, listening to some advice off friends and then finally being recommended it when i went into a store. personally i love it does everything i want it to, having been an iPhone user since the originals launch i'm loving the freedom the android OS is giving me and the Luxurys of a removable battery and a huge amount of screen space!

That being said i've found the screen to be a bit of a curse. the battery on the phone seems to last a lot longer than that of my old iPhone 5 when it's sitting in my pocket but the minute you turn on that screen it's one huge power drain, so you really need that option of removable batteries.

I also found today when i was out on a sunny walk and was wanting to turn up the brightness on the screen so i could see it in the bright light i was told that i couldn't turn it up any higher because of the temerature of the screen.

...All this being said, still love the phone and would recommend it to people, but that screens a bit of a double edged sword.

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